A frantic, somewhat contentious finish was settled by the left foot of Nick Whiteman.
The Brainerd junior midfielder tallied with 25 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Warriors a stirring 4-3 victory over the Rocori Spartans in a Central Lakes Conference game Tuesday, Sept. 11, at Adamson Field in Brainerd.
The debate began when a free kick was called. Rocori thought the clock would be stopped and was scrambling to get into defensive position. Whiteman capitalized on the lack of defenders and approached the live ball.
"They all thought the clock was going to stop," Whiteman said. "I see the guy, he's just standing there, just one guy, and he's looking around. The goalie's in the net but he's not looking, trying to get his wall set. The clock I see it at 31 (seconds). I know it's going to keep ticking so I just go."
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Warriors 4, Rocori 3 OT
- The key: Nick Whiteman scored with 25 seconds left in overtime to give Brainerd the win
- Conference: Brd 3-1, Roc 0-1-1
- Overall: Brd 5-1, Roc 1-3-1
- Next: Brainerd at St. Cloud Apollo 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13.
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Warriors head coach Tom Grausam said a live ball on the free kick was the correct call.
"You can just kick it," Grausam said, "but if he blows the whistle, or if you ask for 10 (yards), then he has to stop the time. Then you have to wait for the whistle to begin.
"They were not in position, but the clock was still running so it was an interesting call, but it was the right call. Our player just recognized they were not in position."
The finish highlighted a frenetic comeback by the Warriors who trailed 2-0 after the first half and didn't get on the scoreboard until 10 minutes into the second half. Brainerd then tied it 2-2 and surged in front 3-2 only to have Rocori tie it with 61 seconds remaining in regulation.
"It was a very physical contest," Grausam said. "It could have gone both ways. Our boys didn't play their best. We fought through the first half where we were down 2-0. At our little meeting at halftime, I don't sugarcoat anything. I basically told them you guys played horrible. You guys need to step it up and play our game—move the ball around, connect passes.
"That's what they did in the second half. Then we had a lot of opportunities. We put four in so it gave us the win."
Trailing 2-nil, Whiteman said the Warriors have been in that situation before.
"We know it's going to be work," he said, "but if they can score two, we can score two. We scored five against Rogers in the second half after going down 1-0. Who says we can't do that?"
The Spartans darted to a 2-goal lead in the first half as Christian Rodriguez and Federico Sebastian scored within 53 seconds of each other.
That advantage stood until 49:39 of the second half when Jack Thorkelson scored the first of two goals on a deflection from about 25 yards out. About four minutes later, Whiteman tallied on a penalty kick and the contest was knotted 2-2. A red card on a Rocori defender for a hand ball in the goal crease, on what appeared to be a certain Brainerd score, set up Whiteman's PK.
Thorkelson's second goal was a left-footer that beat Spartans keeper Caiden Hennen who made numerous spectacular saves during the contest.
Rodriguez's second goal, with 61 seconds left in regulation, sent the game into overtime.
In only its fourth year of competing in the CLC school, Rocori has improved even though it has only one win in five games this season. The Spartans' cumulative record in their first three years in the CLC was 9-23.
"They've come a long way," Grausam said. "Their program is growing. They're getting stronger every year. Every year we always have a tough time against Rocori. They're just a tough, fierce competitor for us."
For more photos of the Brainerd boys soccer game to to https://bit.ly/2Ql99CJ.
Rocori 2 1 0—3
Brainerd 0 3 1—4
First half: R-Christian Rodriguez 11:06; R-Federico Sebastian 11:59
Second half: B-Jack Thorkelson (Max Wheeler) 49:39; B-Nick Whiteman PK 53:51; B-Thorkelson 63:40; R-Rodriguez 78:59
Overtime: Whiteman 0:25
Shots on goal: R 4, B 17
Goalkeepers: R-Caiden Hennen; B-Noah Sundberg